This is How Writers are Made

My father was in the military, which meant that we never seemed to live in any one place very long.


What lingers in my mind is the dreamlike quality of the earlier moves. I would fall asleep in my bed and wake up in a moving car. There was a very practical reason for this: our car didn’t have air conditioning so we would leave late at night or very early in the morning, long before the sun rose.

But I became convinced that I had been kidnapped by Gypsies.


This became a strange form of entertainment for my family to the point that, on Sunday afternoons, we drove around looking for the house where I ‘used’ to live.

Then came the night that my parents held a party.  I must have been three, maybe four years old by then. My claim to fame (besides having been kidnapped) was that I could recite the alphabet backwards, and this sort of thing seemed to be yet another endless source of entertainment, so I was trotted out to perform my act. This went over so well that I went on to tell the story about we had been looking very hard for my real parents.


And then suddenly, magically, they were there at the party: Paul and Mary! They were so glad to finally find me! And it was a good thing, too, because they were leaving town in the morning. I should run along to bed and rest up, because we would have a long trip tomorrow. Don’t forget to pack your things! They said that they would take me with them when they left.


Mother helped me put a few things in a scarf – not much more than a change of clothes, really – and placed the bundle next to my pillow, turned out the light, and pulled the door shut. Despite my excitement, I drifted off to sleep.

When I woke, it was daylight. I was in my own bed, still. Mother was sitting beside me on the bed. The wrong mother. It had all been a joke, she told me. Mary and Paul  hadn’t meant any harm. But oh, how my heart was broken that morning. And, truth to be told, a little bit, still.

ETA Note: I made one small edit to the final paragraph, changing ‘They’ to Mary and Paul for clarification.

Oh … and adding a photograph taken around that time. Left to right: My brother, our dog (a brindled boxer, I think), me with the dog, and to the right, my sister with her dolls.

3 kids and a dog




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